Friday, October 19, 2012

To be or not to be - battling for your dream.


‎"To be or not to be. That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them" ( Hamlet- W. Shakespeare)







As Christians we often have a very passive and ‘peaceful’ outlook to things that happen in our lives  and can be fooled into thinking we are to accept everything that is flung at us without fighting back.I have heard a great man of God say “the Christian life is not like a battle but it is a battle”. Whatever happened then to this peaceful person called a Christian? That statement does not seem to have room for ‘peace’ or passivity.

Anybody who has been a Christian long enough can identify with the above quote. We know how we struggle within and without. Being kind, forgiving, patient and forbearing is not easy. It is a battle. When tempted to sin in thought, word or deed there is battle at hand to resist the force of the flesh and surrender to the way of the cross which is dying to self.

How do we “take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them”? I have been thinking about this.  I have been reflecting on area where we do this. I think the first place is in the mind- that’s where most battles are fought and won.” For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ( Eph 6:12).

I have found that it is here that the fiercest battles are fought. For years, I had to fight to keep a God given dream alive .The battle against crippling discouragement  demanded that I rise above it and look to God for my strength and enabling. The battle against my own negative thoughts meant I had to learn to put no confidence in the flesh but to confess that “His power is made perfect in my weakness”. The battle against  lack of help and outside support  meant I had to learn to forgive and move on saying He is my sufficiency ( 2Cor 12:9) and my competence comes from Him ( 2 Cor 3:5).He is able to give me everything I need for life and godliness ( 2 Peter 1:3). IT WAS A BATTLE! If I had continued to stay passive, I would have stayed unfruitful, become despondent and depressed and not gone on to fulfill God’s plans for my life.

Is the battle over? Has it ended? I wish I could say a resounding “Yes”, but the truth is far from it. The good news is that I am gaining victory over the toughest battle – that is my own mind ( where the battle continues to rage but I am better equipped now), my own  lack of faith and  wanting to giving up. To maintain the ground I have won, I need to keep fighting . And this fight is not won on a bloody battle field but at the foot of the cross where every battle was fought , won and proclaimed to all of history with the biggest most confident  victory cry of all :”It is finished”.

I have decided that I will be the one who  takes arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them  thus fulfilling those God given dreams  for the glory of God!

Navaz D Cruz

Oct 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Looks can be....



Over the past few weeks I have found myself mulling over the lives of two people .There have also been several things that keep drawing my attention back to the lessons I have picked out from my reflections on these two lives. Both were famous in their own right, both were leaders and anointed by God. But one made it till the end and the other did not. Both had the same heritage of being part of a great nation; not just any nation, but the best, the chosen one, the beloved of God! Both had the same mighty man of God anoint them and be around if they needed him. What then set them both apart?

The other day, my son posted a picture that he liked, on my Facebook wall; knowing it’s the kind of stuff his mum would appreciate. That is the picture you see. Things like this convinced me through the week that these private reflections need to be penned.
 My daily Bible readings have been in the books of Samuel and Kings. You may have guessed by now that I am talking about King Saul and King David.

I felt the Lord draw my attention to their lives and nudge me in my spirit saying, “ I want a generation of people who will be like David, who was a man after my own heart. David longed and hungered for the presence of God. He said that the presence of God was better than any love, better than the choicest of wine. He yearned and fainted for the presence of God as a parched deer pants for water.”

Where did he develop this desire, where did he learn this? He came from an ordinary family, whose livelihood was probably rearing sheep. I think this is where he learned this. He learned this while he was tending the sheep where he was all alone, where no one was watching, where no one could come to his rescue when the wild animals came. It is here he developed a quite walk with God. He cultivated a trust and a relationship with God. He realized that in the day of trouble, God alone is his refuge and ever present help. He learned to inquire of the Lord and seek His face. Tending sheep must have been pretty boring and lonely business. But it’s here that he got to know the heart and character of God. It was in the “dailyness” of life, in the mundane and not in some fancy school for the Prophets, or in some dramatic public ministry. He did not just know about God but he got to KNOW God. This comes through so strongly in the Psalms.

This set him apart from his predecessor. Nowhere does scripture record that Saul had a private deep devotion to God. David even as a fugitive, while running away from an insecure leader that was baying for his life, realized that only God could save him. He inquired after God and was dependent on the counsel and strength that God gave him.

When he became King, he did the same. He always inquired after God’s heart. He did respect and seek the counsel of the prophets but he had his own walk with God as well.

When I look at Saul what strikes me, is that he did not know God. He knew about the God of Israel but he had no personal relationship with him. He had the heritage of being an Israelite, he had the anointing, he had the counsel of Samuel when he wanted it, and he had the Law of Moses to guide him. Yet, he did not know what pleased God and what did not. He was casual about his dealings with God. He used God as a lucky charm. He wanted God for blessings and success. And when he did not get it, he abandoned God rather than come to him in deep repentance which in contrast is exactly what David did when he sinned against God.

Not only did Saul abandon his faith in God, but he began to consult with witches and mediums. The result we all know is that his reign was cut short and he lived a tormented soul.

There is so much to learn here. These are my reflections:

There is no substitute for a deep walk with God- deep roots, deep foundations built on obedience to the Word of God over a sustained long period of time, especially when no one is watching.  I need to ensure this in my life at all times. Then as leaders we are to ensure the same in our people: make every effort to help them put their roots deep down- character takes time to build and there are no short cuts. Beware the ones that seem to be growing very fast – got a lot of flare, lots to show. The test is when the storms come; will they stand or be uprooted in a jiffy?

People tend to judge by outward appearances and scorn the little leaves that they see above the soil while praising the “little carrot with big bushy green leaves”. Don’t get flustered. Remember God looks at the heart while man looks on the outside. Our 18 years in Christian ministry has taught us this over and over again.

Beware So(a)ulish advice – When David had to face Goliath, Saul was totally flustered as to how this young boy would tackle a giant. The kind of faith and confidence that David displayed in God was totally foreign to Saul. He just could not figure it out. So in his feeble attempts to advice David he tried to dress him in his armor. This was foreign to David! He knew what God had taught him in the secret place where he fought the lion and the bear. He knew that at the end of the day it was God who would give him victory – not his slingshot, not his sword.

What have I learned from this? – many well meaning people will give you all sorts or counsel and advice. At the end of the day, if you have a walk with God and have learned to trust His still small voice, do not abandon that for anything. Even men of God will come and say things to you with all good intent but they could be wrong. ( Read 1Kings 13:1-26).  Am I against the counsel of godly men? Far be it that I should go down that path! Over the years we have received some of the most invaluable advice from our mentors and other mighty men and women of God. Many big and small decisions in our lives have been guided by prophetic words we have received. So I am all for good counsel and prophecy.

However there is no substitute for knowing God, knowing His Word and hearing his voice for yourself and have a peace in your heart and spirit that you have obeyed him. And I know time does tell in the end. There have been times we were given well meaning advice that did not bear witness with our spirits nor were they in line with the prophetic words over our lives and we have had to stand in our convictions and gently but firmly resist. If we had followed through with that counsel our lives would have possibly have been rocked beyond imagination. This makes me shudder and bow down before a holy awesome God- the God of Israel who neither slumbers nor sleeps, who has and will continue to watch over our lives.

I would be wise to be a door keep in the house of my God for the rest of my days than anywhere else – no matter how attractive it may seem.

If you have been drawn into this reflection with me then let us encourage ourselves that Jesus has not left us alone. He has given us the comforter, the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all truth. He dwells inside us and guides us in the path of righteousness for His name sake. Lets us be ones who KNOW our God and like His sheep we recognize HIS voice over all the noisy banter we may hear even on the Christian sound waves. Let us resolve to dig deep into His word, dig our roots deeper still and when needed seek out Godly counsel from safe, tried and tested men of God. At the end of the day – we stand alone before God to give an account of what we have done and not done. There will be no finger pointing, blame shifting on that day. I want to be able to say, I heard your voice and obeyed it Lord. And I want to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Lets get to KNOW HIM better.

One Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!

Navaz D Cruz

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Retired or Re-tyred?


Last evening during a lively discussion at our Life Group, we spoke about something that got my attention. It was this : every now and then at regular intervals there are several professions that require its people to undergo what they call “re certification”. This simply means they have to go through a set of tests, checks, exams on certain elements in their profession to ensure that they have not lost touch with some important skills. This process may even include an upgrading of their knowledge base to keep in touch with the changing times.

This got me thinking. What about our Christian life? Praise God that our salvation is secure from the word go. We are saved by grace and grace alone. But we are saved for good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. ( Eph2:9-10). Often one comes across these words spoken by Christians who have been around a long time:” When I was …. I used to do …… I used to go and help at….. I used to serve at……”.  I think we all recognize it and have sometimes said it ourselves. As older Christians ( and I qualify in these ranks !) we can have a "retired" mentality

We as Christians do not to retire but probably need to get "re-tyred" - maybe we have got worn out along the edges, lost our grip on the vision that God gave us, got a little deflated due to bumps in the road.  Its time for a pit stop and get systems overall-ed so we can be up and going with a new burst of energy 
.

I began to reflect on scripture that urges us to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. The Lord knows, how with time we have a tendency to slacken off or rest on our “I used tos”. We have heard the adage “well begun is only half done”.  I remind myself of Paul who till the end labored hard to reach his goal, to finish the race and to fight the good fight of faith – what a champion!

As I reflected I did a mental check list – and maybe you would like to do it with me. I asked myself several questions and you could add to this if you like as the Holy Spirit nudges you .

I asked myself :


  • How am I doing on the greatest commandment of all  i.e Loving God . How is this reflected in my personal devotions, meditation of scripture, prayer and worship of Him?
  •  How am I doing in loving my brothers and sisters? Do I have any outstanding debt of love toward anyone? 
  • How am I doing on serving my church community and in my neighbourhood? 
  • How am I doing as a wife and mother? 
  • How am I doing as a friend ? 
  • How am I using my gifts to glorify God? 
I know the list can go on.. but  I thought to myself that this was a good place to start. This exercise is not designed to put a heavy yoke on our backs – we are to be motivated by grace – knowing how much God loves us and that He has great plans for us and wants us to go get it. He is for you and me 100%. His grace is indeed sufficient.

However while the Bible encourages me to stir and fan into flame the God given gifts in me, I am also urged and encouraged to spur my brothers and sisters on toward love and good deeds.(Heb10:24). 

As I reflect and check myself into that pit stop , can I spur you on as well? We have a great big destiny in God – much bigger than you can imagine and we have everything we need for life and godliness in Christ Jesus. Be blessed – keep running, keep fighting, keep loving.

Navaz
August 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In Him we move and have our God particle!


The headlines in this morning’s paper is about the great discovery of what has been nicknamed the “God particle”.

 It has taken a 10 billion dollar facility, 50 years of research and at the end of this, this is what scientist Heuer has to say, “As a layman I would say we have it, but as a scientist I have to say, ‘what do we have?’”





All I can do is shake my head and bemoan the fact that man has truly lost his way. I am reminded of Romans Chapter 1 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

What has taken 50 years and billions of dollars to find  ( something that they are not even sure of); thousands of years ago all it took the God Almighty was to say, “Let there be…” and BANG! There it was, all of creation in all its splendor, variety, and magnificence. God did not just create one particle, HE created the entire universe, entire galaxies.

Why don’t we just get it – HE is God the uncreated one  who created all things just by HIS word and no matter how intelligent mankind is, we are still finite in our thinking, our ability to grasp and understand certain things. When we conspire to bring God down we put ourselves in a dangerous place and you know what? He who sits in heaven laughs while we plot and study and research in vain ( Ps 2 :1-3).

The reason we don’t get it, is outlined in Romans Chapter 1 – our thinking becomes dark and we can no longer see, that “in Him we move “ ( Acts 17:28) and have our God particle! I have found my God particle - have you?


Navaz D Cruz
July2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Buy 1 Give 1



 Its summer time and there are many sales on with  attractive offers of "buy I get 1 free" and so on. This can be a huge temptation to buy up a lot stuff , often stuff we might not  necessarily need.Long ago, a friend introduced us to a valuable life principle which I will call “Buy 1 give 1



How does it work? I have often gone to homes where  I have seen cupboards and shelves overflowing with clothes, kitchen ware, artifacts,  and nick knacks that no one has use for either because it was an impulse buy,or the older stuff is still lying in the deep recesses of cupboards and shelves causing them to burst at its seams .

Our friend introduced us to this principle that is tucked away in a little book, Ruth which can be found in the Bible. The principle is called “gleaning”, not a term we are familiar with. Gleaning was an old Jewish custom where during harvest the harvesters would be instructed by the owner of the field not to pick every stalk of grain but to leave some behind for the poor would come by at the end of the day and pick up what was left behind. This would help provide a little grain for the poor families.

It is a wonderful principle of being mindful of the poor and caring for them where if everybody practices this the poor would be taken care of by the whole community.

We don’t have fields today but we have a lot that we can share, lot of stuff lying in our cupboards that could clothe many families. Jesus came down pretty hard on the hoarding rich man who wanted to build bigger barns to hoard his wealth – he died in his sleep!!

In the New Testament I see the same principle being put into action by the early church where “all the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”( Acts 2:44-45). Wow what a radical lifestyle!!

So how can I put this into practice today? Here are some tips and things we have put into practice over the years.
  • ·        When we buy a new item of clothing we give one away – that way your cupboard stays trim and does not overflow.
  • ·        Give it away while it still looks good and has a lot of “wear” left in it. People don’t want your  patched, scruffy rags.
  • ·        If it has been lying in your cupboard for more than a year ask yourself the question “do I really need this or am I hoarding this?”It’s amazing how much we can give away and start a ripple effect of blessing.
  • ·        We have gone beyond clothes – we give away book, toys, furniture, electrical appliances, upholstery, etc etc to so many people who could do with a little help when they are just starting out in life.

There is much joy for the giver and the receiver. Rather than trade in something to get a tiny discount we prefer to give stuff away to friends.

We know that a man’s worth is not in the abundance of his possessions – this helps us to handle our possessions lightly and not place a value on it more than it deserves.

Besides possessions we can give a little bit of our time to help someone, share our skill or talent with the less fortunate. Over the years I have used the musical gift to train up many young people in music. It is a joy to see some of them, use that talent to the glory of God. Others invested in me and I have chosen to pass on the blessing.

So can I encourage you to join me on this journey of living out Buy1 give 1 and make a difference to someone out there?
Let’s go and clean out those cluttered closets!!

Navaz D Cruz
May 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friends



Over the years  I have been blessed to have some very good and faithful friends. Many a midnight oil has been burnt long into the night over deep conversations peppered with so much laughter, so much fun, so many truthful words said in love, so many hearts bared, tears shed – that’s what friends are for! Then we go our separate ways only to reconnect some other time as time permits in a busy, busy, world though never snuffing out  the friendship but leaving it to be rekindled when our paths cross again.

I have had the joy of knowing friends such as these who have made my life rich. These friends have trusted and believed in us. They have been honest friends who have bared heart and soul knowing they will not be judged or rejected or sold out! They have been friends who have wanted and hoped for our best with no hidden agendas and who have been willing to help you on that road with no strings attached. They have genuinely looked out for our good. They have been friends that have encouraged, inspired faith and confidence pointing to Him who has begun the good work in us and that he will bring it to completion. Boy! Is it good to have friends such as these?

It’s good to have friends who help you see when the way is not clear, when clouds of doubt and discouragement hide the shore line as you swimming hard, with strength that is failing; and they urge you on telling you “land is in sight”. Its good have friends who come along side you and help you fan into flame the God given gifts, the dreams, the desires, and the prophecies over your life- they are like that flint stone on which your life is sharpened.

It’s good to have a friend who is courageous enough to tell you when you seem to be losing your way and sit down with you and have a heart to heart face to face chat rather than stab you in the back! I am reminded of the proverb that says “many a man claims to have unfailing love but a faithful friend who can find!” Truly they are rare to find! – But, when you do, don’t let them go, value them more than silver and gold. Appreciate the role they have played in your life – for they have made you rich beyond anything else.

Having reflected on the value and riches of true friendships in my life I think to myself – have I been such a friend? I know my failings and shortcomings and endeavor to set them right.

In today’s consumerist world of use, abuse and throw away where everything is so temporary, it’s hard to find “stick ability” – hanging in when the going gets tough, it’s hard to find those who are not “fair weather friends”. True friends are out there- you just need to look hard , you will find them. They are not bargains but a find , a treasure that you happen upon.

 My random reflections of this morning  makes me resolve to be a good friend at all times – through thick and thin. I have been tempted to give up sometimes – but then I think of the friend who made my life rich, who has stuck with me through thick and thin, who has only wanted my best, who has encouraged me through the lows, who has helped me keep dreaming and doing, who has been faithful, who has spoken the truth in love to me, not just that – this friends gave His life for me. His name is Jesus. He left me a great example to follow. Follow I will – so help me God!

I end this morning’s reflections with a few of quotes:

"Sometimes in life, you find a special friend. Someone who changes your life just by being a part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can't stop. Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it. This is forever friendship. When you're down and the world seems dark and empty, your forever friend lifts you up in spirit and makes that dark and empty world suddenly seem bright and full. Your forever friend gets you through the hard times, the sad times and the confused times. If you turn and walk away, your forever friend follows. If you lose your way, your forever friend guides you and cheers you on. Your forever friend holds your hand and tells you that everything is going to be okay. And if you find such a friend, you feel happy and complete because you need not worry. You have a forever friend, and forever has no end." 
---Unknown

It is only the great hearted who can be true friends. The mean and cowardly, Can never know what true friendship means.
Charles Kingsley

"Be true to your work, your word, and your friend. "
~ Henry David Thoreau


Navaz DCruz
May 2012



Friday, February 24, 2012

God Stories – A Test of Admission 3!

 A Test of Admission - Part 3

Over the past few weeks I have felt prompted to write stories from my history and walk with God. I don’t think I need to pen them in chronological order but  rather as I feel led to write. These are my stories of challenges, steps and leaps of faith. I hope you are blessed and encouraged to trust this eternal, faithful  God, Jesus. Here goes....

  Once again we fast forward several years where Andrew is now a teenager  and on the brink  of college admissions.
Our son has been working away at different sums in Accounts. The temptation is to do just a few  sums in each topic and hurry on. His father was explaining to him that the reason there are 20 sums in each topic is not to make your life miserable but to help you gain mastery over it from every angle as each sum has a different twist teaching you a different principle related to that topic. One often thinks that when you go through one of life’s test and come out of it  you may never have to revisit it again. 


But I am learning that that it not necessarily true. God takes us through similar situations but each has its unique shape and testing.


Fast forwarding to 2011. Our son is now a grown young man of 16years, standing 6.3feet tall. He has had many amazing stories of God’s testing and faithfulness in his own life that he could well start his own blog. ( maybe one day!).   With Andrew having just finished his last year of school the thought foremost in our  minds like most parents  with children in that stage of life is, college admissions. Its a mad rat race here where competition is thick and stiff. People don’t share information willingly thinking you may rob them of their opportunities. Little do they know that our lives are safe in the hands of a sovereign God who orchestrates our lives and gives us the BEST over ruling the “powers ofhell and the schemes of man”.

The results were declared while we were on holiday in Goa. We were thrilled with the results but nervous about not being there to fill in the Admission forms. Mad scrambles to the place that had wi-fi followed, so we could look things up the net. We were relieved to find the there were a few days before admissions would open up and forms would be collected at the colleges of our choice. We had narrowed down our choice to two very good colleges but both offering very different subjects and both of which seemed good . The time came to submit the forms, get all our documents in order and attested. I must admit I was nervous. I had to consciously fight faithless thoughts. I chided myself for being anxious and spoke to myself about resting and being still.

Having given in the forms and admission tests done we awaited the results. College A  called us for an interview which went very well and  it seemed like Andrew had got through. We got a call for an interview from College B as well. The results of College A  were supposed to announced within a couple of days, and that of College B a  few days after. Frankly we were all torn between the two though our leanings were more toward college B as the choice of subjects were more the kind Andrew was inclined toward. We  were also told  that college B  was tougher to get into and had only 30 seats in Andrew’s choice of subject. We prayed that the Lord would open just one door.

The day came when College A‘s list ought to have been out. That day we got an email and sms from college B saying that they have preponed the results and that the list would be up the next day and we were given only two days to secure the admission!! This was looking to be a nail biting finish – would we be left with the burden of choice?

We prayed. Colin went to college A to check the results and there was no list up. They insisted the list was up on the website and we should check there. However no such list appeared. Both situations were highly irregular – the list not appearing and the College B bringing the date forward.

In a couple of Days College B’s list would be out and we had not seen college A’s list yet even though they insisted it was out.  In a couple of days we got an email from college B congratulating him on securing admission and requesting us to pay the fees within two days. It seemed like we were being nudged toward this door. We held  out for a day wanting to be absolutely sure this was the right choice to make.

The day finally came when we had to take the plunge . We went ahead and paid the fees at College B sensing this was God’s leading. Fees paid, admissions secured we rested easy, though curious about College A.

The next day Colin went to college A out of curiosity to see if there was any list put up. Lo and behold! a list of students securing admission was up on the notice board and Andrew’s name was amongst them. We could only smile and say when He acknowledge Him, He does make our path straight and makes the choice clear. God held out the result of College A from us to relieve us of the burden of choice and nudge us in the way He wanted for Andrew. He also wanted us to know that Andrew had done well enough to secure admission in both.

God is interested – very interested, in every detail of our lives and our children. God is faithful , He never leaves us  confused, nor do we ever walk alone!

Navaz
Feb2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Like frogs in the pot?






Several conversations in the recent past have got me thinking about several things. I have lived most of my life a Christ follower. The Bible has been the corner stone of my beliefs, ethos, and world view for as long as I can remember. And there are many others like me. Many of us have grown up in a “Christian environment, Christian home, Christian church that preaches the Word of God in spirit and in truth”. Yet I see disturbing trends among st Christians all around. I see many frog- like Christians










What do I mean? The world around us has a set values, ethos, world view that is powerful and contrary to the Word of God. As we interact and engage with it we are always in danger of taking on its values, ways of thinking and lifestyle. Have we become casual about the standards of God and even look upon them as narrow, irrelevant and outdated? If so,we have become like frogs in a cauldron of water on the boil, and we are slowly getting cooked alive without realizing it.

I ask myself am I in the danger of losing my distinctness, my radical edge, the set apartness. A good question to ask is, “do my friends, neighbours, relatives, colleagues see something different in me?” Or have I been walking on the edge of the kingdom so much that I am walking in darkness’ shadows rather than reflecting the light of the God?

Has the Word ceased to dwell richly in us, challenging us, admonishing, teaching, instructing our hearts in which way we should go? Or do we resort to it as a quick fix paracetamol for the headache, the promotion, the exam?

Here are some questions I have been pondering upon. You could ask these questions and reflect along with me.

1.Education am I pursuing what God wants me to do or am I just blindly doing what everyone else is doing or what we get me the most money even if it takes me away from fellowship and God? 

My story:I remember having had to make this choice – to take up the scholarship to do a Ph. D at Oxford or do what I believe God wanted me to do. God’s ways are not ours – but when we yield to it you find abundant life lies therein. The Word says "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight" Proverbs 3:6. God is not a kill joy - He wants the best for us.

2. Job- am I overly ambitious for promotions, money at the cost of time with my family, health , things of the kingdom .When God instituted the Sabbath he did it for our good so that we would not be worn out, run to the ground and that we would find our sustenance in the house of God. But how many  Christians are guilty of flouting this God given principle and even rationalising their lack of honouring God? Today people almost don’t question the system that demands you work more than 10 hours every day and routinely give up your weekends because of “emergencies” that crop up at work? Have we become modern day slaves of Egypt where we no longer have the time, energy or mind space to worship and meditate and get involved in the things of God? We are slowly getting cooked and our life is being sucked out from us.
But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. Deut. 8:18

 Our Story:I remember when Colin came to India and got a call from two good Computer companies. One offered him a higher salary and a house (the biggest bait you could give in a city like Mumbai) and the other offered a lower salary and no housing. Here was the difference – the company offering the house expected you to work long hours, and weekends if needed. The other company had regular hours and would very rarely call you in on a Saturday but never on a Sunday.  The choice was clear – the later. And have we suffered for it? Far from it. God has given us more than we could ask or imagine.

Here is another one – do I jump at transfers without a thought of what it will do to my family or my spiritual growth. Would I be willing to be radical and forgo the promotion etc, take a cut back in my already heavy pay package for the sake of things of eternal value and trust God to make it up to me. Do I value being in the center of God's will and plan for my life more than anything else? Remember the one who made the sun, moon and stars is no mans debtor.

3. Marriage- here is a big one! When it comes to this do I fall back on traditionalism rather than biblical ways. Do I challenge and stand up to wrong practices in my culture and family setting? I am shocked at how many Christians still follow the “dowry” custom without calling it that yet extracting their pound of flesh. How many girls’ families are in debt to the tune of lakhs of rupees because of the subtle demands and expectations put on them during the “match fixing” meet? When will young men and women stand up for righteousness? How many cultures expect the girl’s family to bear all the wedding expenses and don’t bat an eye lid over it – yes I am talking about Christians the world over!!!

 Our Story: – we cut our coat according to our cloth. We did not have as many guests as everyone in the family would have liked. Yes it made some people unhappy, but where are they today? We chose not to make any gold ornaments except our engagement and wedding rings – this is completely contrary to the Indian custom. We decided that we (Colin and I) would pay for our own wedding expenses and we would split the expenses 50 -50.Radical? Yes – but worth it.  We do not have grudges being held against  inlaws for unfulfilled promises to give certain amounts of money or bear certain expenses and that are still being talked about years after the marriage.   We kept our cost low and started marriage totally debt free – freeing ourselves and our parents of any unnecessary financial burdens. It can be done!! Neither our parents nor us heard “people talking” which is the big fear people live under.

4. Children – Do we send the wife off to her mother’s home or do we uphold the primary relationship between husband and wife? There is no harm in the mother coming over to help with the new born, but to separate man and wife for months on end – is it biblical? I am also told that tradition has it that the expenses connected with the birth of the first child has to be borne by the wife’s parents.  My friends if you are reading this, can you see this for what it is? Do we succumb to superstitious practices related to child bearing etc? ( black marks, shaving off the babies hair etc etc ) We need to be ready to challenge things at every level. Let’s keep the plumb line the word of God.
Do children become a curse of blessing? Ouch!!! What do I mean? I have often seen people hide behind their children as a shield for their laziness toward God and the kingdom. They claim that they cannot make to time to church or serve because they now “have a child” as thought they have caught some deadly disease.

 Our Story:I remember playing my guitar and flute all the 9 months of my pregnancy. I came early to the church meeting to set up as was part of my duty as a worship musician. We continued to do loads of hospitality through my pregnancies and even after the children were born. We attended scores of meetings and taught our children to fit into the family schedule. We are a family together on a mission !
When we moved to Pune, we were the only ones on the serving team initially i.e Colin, 7 year old Andrew and 6 month old Jessica. We would carry all the stuff to church and set up. I would lead worship and then go out and nurse my baby. After the meeting we would knock down and come home and have people over for a meal. This has been our practise and still is. How does one do it? When you ask God for his enabling grace, He gives it to you. That is my story.

So many things in our lives and culture need to be redeemed by the cross. What do I mean? I mean we need to subject every thought pattern, ethos, cultural practise to the Word of God .Our lives need to be radically obedient, and then it will be radically different and fruitful.

These are just a few things – there is soo much more. Take finance – that’s an area that needs deep challenging. I think a lot has been pondered upon here. Lets jump out of the pot and be radical for Jesus!

Navaz D Cruz
Feb2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

God Stories – A Test of Admission 2!



A test of admission - Part 2
PART 2
Over the past few weeks I have felt prompted to write stories from my history and walk with God. I don’t think I need to pen them in chronological order but  rather as I feel led to write. These are my stories of challenges, steps and leaps of faith. I hope you are blessed and encouraged to trust this eternal, faithful  God, Jesus. Here goes....


A few years after Andrew’s schooling years began, we felt called to move to Pune to pastor and nurture the beginnings of a new church plant. We were confident and excited about our move. We knew that God had called us here, we started all the preparations to move 180 km away from Mumbai, family, familiar surroundings, and a great home church. Part of the preparation was looking out for schools in this new city. Trips back and forth between cities began, now with a new addition to our family- Jessica.


It was in the hot month of March that we came to Pune on our first trip as a family: Andrew 6 years old and Jessica 3 months old. We took the train journey in the blistering heat. Pune was a city I was familiar with as many  a childhood holiday was spent at my aunt’s place in the cantonment of Khadki.But nothing prepared me for the transformation this sleepy little city had morphed into. There was rapid development taking place with frantic building activity everywhere. There were huge suburbs being added to the city expanding its boundaries everyday into areas one had never seen before.

This trip to Pune was to do with Andrew’s Entrance Test to a school we had no doubt he would get into, as his average performance was over 95%.  Having done the test and met with the people of this fledgling church we returned to Mumbai buoyant and full of faith.

A few days later we were only expecting to hear good news. But when the list was put up Andrew’s name did not feature there. We were shocked and confused.  It defied all logic! There had to be a mistake! We tried in vain to get some information to no avail. Being a Christian School we thought it would be a cake walk on so many counts. But the door seemed tightly shut.

From the last experience I learnt that God is a gracious provider and it is not wise to pry open a door He has shut. I wondered where and how a new door would open. Anxious thoughts would try and get me but I would remind myself of God’s goodness to me in the past. I was also beginning to realize that church planting is not for the faint hearted – there is an enemy who does not like what were are about and wants to make it as difficult for us in every possible way.

 Divine corridor conversations:That evening had taken Andrew to his school grounds ( near our home in Bandra, Mumbai) to play  (it was a daily routine). I was chatting with one of the mums as Jessica dozzed in her stroller. She asked me how the move to Pune was coming along and I mentioned this hurdle of school admissions.  When I mentioned the name of the school she looked at me perplexed and asked  me why I had not considered the sister school of the one Andrew was presently in. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there was a sister school and lost no time in making inquiries.

We applied for admission; Andrew appeared for the entrance test and secured a seat in a very fine school run by the Jesuits, the masters in education. We were over awed and over joyed at God’s leading, guiding and nudging us on the path he has chosen for us. Once again this school cost us a fraction of what it would have been had we secured admission in the first.  I could truly say again that  5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;  you make my lot secure.6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”Psalm 16:5-6.


However our testing on this score doesn't end here. We meet like old acquaintances once again many years later. Read about it in the next blog!


Navaz D cruz
Feb 2012-02-16

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

God Stories 1 – A Test of Admission!



Over the past few weeks I have felt prompted to write stories from my history and walk with God. I don’t think I need to pen them in chronological order but  rather as I feel led to write. These are my stories of challenges, steps and leaps of faith. I hope you are blessed and encouraged to trust this eternal, faithful  God, Jesus. Here goes....



Colin and I got married in 1991 a few days before Christmas. We both had successful careers – I lecturing in College and Colin jet setting  around the world training people on proprietary software the Dutch company he worked for  wrote and developed. We enjoyed the “good life” living abroad and travelling to many countries. But this did not really feel like the “good life”. We both sensed God had a call on our lives.
So, in 1993 June we gave up our careers to do a 9 month intensive training with the church and thereafter  join the church staff in full time service. This took us spiralling down financially. What we used to tithe now became our monthly income!! But we were overjoyed to serve and give ourselves to something that would last forever – The Church. We learned to tighten our purse strings, budget, be generous, do hospitality all within that meagre amount. We learned to be content in plenty and in want. Every month we would see 5 loaves and 2 fish multiply in our hands.
Andrew's first day of Pre- School.
 Then in June of 1995 we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy – Andrew. We saw God’s sovereign provision where we lacked no good thing. Fast forwarding a few years – Andrew was 4+ and it was time to send him to pre- school. We had our eye on a fine pre- school that had a super reputation for good education. But to our horror we were confronted with fees that would be nearly 30% of our salary and we had to pay up 6 months fees in advance. I was very disappointed and even angry thinking to myself “Lord, I’ve given up everything for you and now this??” But I quickly repented of that sinful thought and surrendered to a sovereign God who knows what is best for us and our children.  I prayed for God’s miraculous provision if it was His will that we take admission into this school as we did not have that kind of money.
That evening a friend dropped in to visit and we got talking about schools and fees etc. He casually mentioned that they had just got their son into a preschool close to our home which was very good and much cheaper. But he warned us that admissions are over and that people usually queue up at 5 in the morning to get an admission form for this place. “Great!!!” I thought, “Let’s give it a try, we have nothing to lose”.


Fancy Dress
Robin Hood!
The gang at Kids R Us with
teacher Rosemary.
Later that evening another friend along with his wife dropped by to chat and before leaving put an envelope in our hands!!Now this does not usually happen to us (people putting money in our hands). The amount was generous but nowhere near what we needed. I was still seeking God’s guidance and leading. Later that evening, I called the other preschool recommended by our friend  and introduced myself. We realized that the teacher and I had common friends etc. I then broached the subject of admissions to her preschool. She paused and said, “You are very lucky, I have just one seat left because one child has just dropped out of school!” I knew it was not luck. I was beginning to sense  God’s divine orchestration. I then tentatively broached the subject of fees. She gave me the break up of the Admission fees, the first month’s fees and activity fees all of which was a fraction of the cost of the other school. There were no advance fees to be paid but only on a monthly basis. I was also required to buy a couple of book, a Tiffin box and Water Bottle. When I did the calculation for all this it all fit in exactly in the amount that was in the envelope our dear friends earlier that evening had placed in our hands.

I was awe struck at God’s sovereign leading and gracious provision.  Both Colin and I marvelled at His divine guidance which has always been with us. I had asked for divine provision for the school fees and God was not slow to answer, just not in the way I was asking!! Andrew went to a wonderful pre -school and enjoyed his first year of formal education under the very skillful tutelage of a wonderful teacher whom he went to meet (as a 6 foot tall young man) on completing his schooling years.
You would have thought we had learned our lesson.  Well three years later we found ourselves at similar cross roads. What happened and how that story ends  needs to be told in the next Blog post!

Navaz D Cruz
Feb 2012


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Plumb line- Part2




Part 2
 For PART1please click here

If you walk into a book store today and you will find row upon row of books written by Management gurus spouting mantras of how to be at the top of the ladder, how to better yourself, how to look good in the eyes of the boss, how to get noticed, how not to hold yourself back but assert yourself and on and on and on. It’s all about winning, how not to be a failure etc, etc. The pressures to conform are very real. Many have shared of how they do all the hard work and the lazy but cunning guy shoots ahead because he has mastered the art of self promotion and assertion. Then one wonders whether walking the straight and narrow helps?  Have you felt this way?






I find it very helpful to get my bearings, to align my heart against the Plumb line of the Word of God. Why? I do this because I am utterly convinced that the only enduring, flawless, timeless and dependable wisdom is found in the Bible alone. It has stood the test of time. The Word of God perfect- It instructs me that God is sovereign in full knowledge of how my life will unfold. It also instructs me that this world and all that it offers is temporary and passing. So with this in mind I carry on my quiet meditation and pen my thoughts on the following passage below.

 Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Verse 3: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. This is such an area of temptation. I need to keep a guard over my heart and motives knowing the heart is deceitful above all else.  Every now and then it’s good to take a pit stop and take stock of what is going on in the boiler room of the heart. If I don’t, busyness gets me or the “success” of what I am involved in can cloud/dull and even blind me to what’s going on, on the inside. Jesus was always interested in what goes on in our hearts. Everything will be tested by fire (1Cor3:12-15). So I would be wise to stop in my tracks every now and them and do a heart check up – allowing the Holy Spirit to shed His light, wash and clean me – which He does with much grace and love.

Selfish ambition- Doing things that promote self interest, self glory. Doing things that get me recognition,  for my glory, promotion and elevation in the eyes of men. Often this would involved putting others down, even subtly, ignoring others peoples gifts and talents so that only “I” get noticed. The object with which I conduct myself is that “I” increase and that “I” get glory . This is nothing but “I-dolatry”.

Vain conceit- The dictionary tells me the synonyms of conceit are, egoism, egotism, narcissism, vanity .  The dictionary tells me vanity is being inordinately proud of one's appearance, possessions, or achievements, given to ostentatious display, especially of one's beauty, worthless, senseless or futile. It is the very opposite of humility. It’s thinking that only I can do the job well. What is the fall out of this? We don’t train others to do our job. We think we are indispensible. We get very critical and condemning of other peoples efforts. We don’t delegate. We are unable to encourage and appreciate the baby steps others take to grow their gifts. It also shows a lack of humility to realize that all our gifts and talents are “Grace Gifts” that we don’t deserve in the first place. We owe it all to God and need to hold these things lightly.

V3b- Rather, in humility value others above yourselves – This gives me the antidote to the first half of the verse. How do I cure myself of this malady of selfish ambition? By  practising the very opposite.
Firstly, being humble- how does humility express itself? In this case – considering others better than yourself and not looking out tomy own interests. How does this work out?
Others better than your self- this will put the breaks on self exalting thought patterns that constantly assail our minds. It will nudge us to look for ways to appreciate others. It will nudge us to release others, give others a chance to use their gifts.

Verse4:  4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Look not only to your own interest but also the interest of others. This strikes a death blow to self ambition. When we put others betterment before our own – we cannot exalt ourselves. We can only do one or the others. If we all had this attitude – it would breed so much growth for everyone .(including yourself because someone else will be looking out to your interests well) It will breed an atmosphere of acceptance, grace and security. It will breed an atmosphere of encouragement and appreciation and an atmosphere of wanting to mentor others so that they progress and get on in their walk with God and all that God has called them to with no strings attached.

It will mean that sometimes we have to let go of our lofty ideals/standards for the sake of unity, for the sake of brotherhood and oneness in Spirit ( without compromising your principles). But when you look at the big picture, when you look from Eternity’s perspective it won’t seem that ideal at all.

Verse 5-11. Gives us the grand key and perspective to everything.  The way down is the way up. As you lower yourself to the point of nothingness, God comes bursting in and does the very thing you sought after but in a wrong way. Jesus was offered  power, and fame when tempted in the dessert. But he overcame selfish ambition and lowered himself to serve the interest of His Father in heaven thus serving us sinful men. The end result it not only glorious exaltation to the highest place but He has been given the highest Name – the name above every other. Satan would like to deceive us into thinking we need to do this for ourselves – how wrong!!! When we leave things in the hands of a sovereign God – He works out things for our best, ALWAYS. 

When life rattles me, this is one of the passages of scripture I take refuge in and find great solace, comfort and assurance. I leave you with these thoughts – may you know rest in knowing His way- aligning your heart to the plumb line of this scripture.

Navaz
Jan2012